News & Promotions

  • Save On 2016 Whitetail Hunts!
    Save On 2016 Whitetail Hunts!
    Posted by admin
    Now is the time to reserve your 2016 Whitetail Hunt. Prime dates get filled a year in a adance so don't wait to book your
  • Book Your 2015 Whitetail Hunt Now!
    Book Your 2015 Whitetail Hunt Now!
    Posted by admin
    Now is the time to reserve your 2015 whitetail deer hunting dates, especially if you want to come during a prime time!! We have some great hunting dates available, but they won't last long! The 2015 season should be one of the best in many years. If yo
  • Trail camera not just for big game
    Trail camera not just for big game
    Posted by admin
    Nowadays, just about everyone is using trail cameras for hunting, but the real question is, “Are you getting your money’s worth out of your camera and using it to its full potential?” Most hunters dust the camera off about mid-August to early September, s
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Tips from our Experts

  • Early Summer Whitetails…What Should(‘nt) I be doing?
    Early Summer Whitetails...What Should(‘nt) I be doing?
    Posted by admin
    For many of you die hard whitetail hunters there is an itch that you feel right now. An itch that, you so very much, would like to scratch. Turkey season is over, you have already drowned several dozen nightcrawlers, the green fields are growing, and th
  • Before the Spring Thaw…
    Before the Spring Thaw…
    Posted by admin
    As we enter the last week of February most people grow anxious for the warmth of spring. Although I share in this enthusiasm I know that there is work to be done before the flowers start to bloom. This is the optimum time of the year to make habitat imp
  • Here Comes the Fall...
    Here Comes the Fall...
    Posted by admin
    This time of the year is an exciting time for whitetail hunters. September marks the start of many states deer hunting season and for others it is the final month countdown to go time. With all of this anticipation there is usually a flurry of activity
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Recent Blogs

  • Connecting the Dots on Your Target Buck
    Connecting the Dots on Your Target Buck
    Posted by admin
    I’m flipping through hundreds of trail camera photos of does, yearlings, and small bucks using the small spring fed water hole in the late August heat and finally BOOM! A massive velvet toting rack fills my computer screen. After a few mesmerizing seconds
  • A Hunting Honeymoon = The Perfect Honeymoon
    A Hunting Honeymoon = The Perfect Honeymoon
    Posted by admin
    In just a few days, some friends of ours will celebrate their 7th wedding anniversary and of course, seeing their anniversary on the calendar reminded me of their wedding back in 2008. The groom is an avid hunter…and the bride was (and still is) his perfe
  • Are Deer Drives a Thing of The Past?
    Are Deer Drives a Thing of The Past?
    Posted by admin
    “Loop around this wooded funnel in the corn field and walk through, push something to me.” My father had just given a near holy task to me as a 12 year old boy, push a deer to him. As a young boy, spending a morning freezing with my dad was darn special
  • Building Your Waterfowl Blind Bag
    Building Your Waterfowl Blind Bag
    Posted by admin
    Building Your Blind Bag Wind howling, my brother and I looked at each other and traded our gear out quickly. Taking the bows out of the truck, we loaded our duck decoys, shotguns, boats and headed for the swamps. Mallards flew high, teal whistled b
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  • Anticipation!! I booked my hunt with Heartland Lodge in July of 2014 for the last week of October 2015.  I must say I have never had to endure a wait this long or this exciting.  My wife says I'm unbearable to live with.  I have all of my gear packed and ready to go (except my bow, got to practice) and can't wait to get to Illinois for my first ever Mid-West hunt.  I guide whitetail hunts in South Texas and I'm really looking forward to being the one guided this time!! I promise to write about my experience with Gary and Heartland Lodge when my hunt is complete at the end of October.  Ahh the ANTICPATION is killing me!! Happy hunting and shoot straight!!
    - Rick Myers-Beeville, TX
  • The experience was absolutely great!! While my son and I didn't shoot a deer, we had a great time.  We could have shot deer but chose to wait on a trophy. We can't wait to come back!!
    - Eric Stratman-Quincy, IL
  • Every time I come it's harder to leave.  I feel like this place is my home away from home!  I always speak highly of this place and do my best to get the word around.  It means a lot to me that everyone on staff treats me as their friend.  The personal touch and getting to come hunt with my friends is what keeps me coming back
    - Jim Palermo
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Illinois Gun Hunts

Illinois firearm whitetail hunting, especially in Pike County, has been a tradition at Heartland that dates back to when Heartland’s owner, Gary Harpole, grew up hunting as a child.  The anticipation of opening day of Illinois whitetail gun season was more exciting than any holiday or occasion. The firearm season was spent at Gary’s Grandpa’s house. (This home still stands next to Heartland and now Gary resides there.) The Illinois gun season always opens on a Friday and all the local schools close for the occasion. Gary grew up in Quincy, but just the same, he would get excused from school and make the exciting drive to the area where Heartland Lodge is now located.

The excitement was shared not only by Gary and his grandfather, but his entire family and relatives. Uncles, aunts, cousins and friends would all stop in at “Grandpa’s House” to catch up on the latest “deer stories.” Saturday night, everyone would bring the wild game they harvested and cook a feast fit for a king.  The hunts themselves were always memorable. Nothing was as exciting as sitting on a log, or a five gallon bucket, (before they installed tree stands) watching that monster buck appear at first light and feeling your heart pound as if it was going to come out of your chest.  The “meat pole” was always the tree in Grandpa’s front yard. It was a tradition in Pike County as everyone drove around looking to see what their neighbors brought in. Best of all were the traditions and memories Gary made with his Grandpa and family that will last a lifetime.

Those same traditions are being carried on at Heartland Lodge. Gun season is a very special time at Heartland. The evening meal and orientation meeting the night before is filled with anticipation and excitement. Many whitetail hunters will be hunting the same properties that Gary’s family did for generations. Most importantly, are the new traditions that are being developed with fathers and sons, grandpas and grandsons, and friends that will last a lifetime.


Click the sections below for more information.

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Whitetail Photos

Trail Cam Photos

Orig Lodge Virtual Tour

New Lodge Virtual Tour

Rooms Virtual Tour


Illinois Firearm Hunting Seasons

Gun Seasons:

Illinois first gun season always falls in November on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Opening day is on a Friday and the season ends on Sunday. These three days normally fall during the peak of the rut, creating some exciting days in the stand!  Illinois second gun season always falls the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend (normally the first weekend in December). The second gun season starts on a Thursday and ends on the Sunday.  If colder weather moves in, this hunt can be very productive for large whitetail bucks, plus you get an extra day of hunting. You can use approved shotguns, muzzleloaders and pistols during the first two firearm seasons.  Archery hunting is not allowed during these firearm seasons.

Late Muzzleloader Season:

Illinois muzzleloader-only season falls on the weekend following the second guns season. This season starts on Friday and ends on Sunday. Only approved muzzleloaders are allowed. You can archery hunt during the muzzleloader only season when you have an Illinois archery permit.

Our combo Archery/Muzzleloader hunt is very popular during this time. Its a seven night, six day package. You can either archery hunt three days before the muzzleloader season, then hunt the three days of muzzleloader or you can hunt with your bow the three days following the muzzleloader season. You can harvest a buck with your bow and your gun!

Late Winter Antlerless Season:

Illinois has seven days that is designated for deer management and the harvesting of does only. These doe hunting dates are also split between two weekends.  The first weekend starts normally on the last Thursday of the calendar year and ends on Sunday. The second season falls at the end of our deer season, normally in mid January, and opens on Friday and ends on Sunday.  Approved shotguns, muzzleloaders, and pistols can be used during this season.


Illinois Whitetails

Illinois Gun Hunt Pike County What makes Illinois such a great deer hunting state? There are many factors, but low pressure and great genetics, along with a healthy age structure, make Illinois the best destination for hunting mature whitetails. Within Illinois, Pike County is the premier county for trophy whitetails. Pike County is located in between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. This fertile land has all the minerals whitetails need, along with an abundance of agriculture mixed in with just the right amount of hardwoods and cover that whitetails desire.  All whitetails are free roaming when hunting at Heartland Lodge.


The Heartland Lodge Difference

What makes us different than all the other outfitters in Illinois and the Mid-West?

  1. Pike County Illinois Whitetail GunLong-term deer management.  Most of our whitetail properties have been under our management for 10+ years. Some for 20+ years!  
  2. No smoke-and-mirrors marketing. All of our deer photos and trail cam photos are from our hunters and properties. Many outfitters post photos of friends’ and families’ deer, along with trail cam photos on properties you will never be hunting.   
  3. Our guides do not hunt the properties. Many outfitters allow their guides to hunt the same stands and properties as the hunters decreasing your opportunities.  
  4. Personal Service.  We stay “small” by choice and only have one deer camp/lodge. We like to develop long term friendships with all of our hunters. You will see the owner every day at the lodge. Low pressure and low volume on our properties keeps those mature whitetails from going nocturnal. Many outfitters run a high volume operation and you are just a number to them. We want you to be just as excited to return to Heartland as when you first arrived.
  5. Hunting Tradition - Your stay with us is more than a deer hunt. It’s part of a strong hunting tradition that started back when Heartland’s owner Gary Harpole was a child. Each year new traditions are being created by our guests. It’s our hope that you create your own memories at Heartland with your family or friends and carry on a tradition that started many years ago.  


Firearm Permits in Illinois

Purchasing your firearm permit for the first two seasons or late muzzleloader season is a very easy process. All Illinois residents can apply in the first lottery that normally ends at the end of May.  All nonresidents and Illinois residents can apply in the second lottery that normally ends August 15th. If you apply in either one of these drawings you should receive a permit. All leftover permits are then sold online or at a licensed vender until they are sold out.

Firearm permits come with one either-sex tag. For an additional small charge, a doe-only tag can be added.

The late season doe permits can be purchased online or at a licensed vendor for residents. If you are a nonresident and want to hunt one of these seasons, you must purchase a doe permit for one of the first firearms seasons. These permits are allowed to be used for the late doe season.  In recent years, Pike County has been an unlimited county, meaning you can harvest as many does as you would like, as long as you have a deer permit for each one.

For more information on our deer hunts go to our main Whitetail deer hunting page.